The House of Representatives and the Senate has made it to spring break. The beginning of session is full of celebration and excitement and then the work begins. At the midway point, we have most of the work on the budget completed and several bills are moving through the committees and on to the House floor. That also means there are some tough votes and difficult debate about sensitive issues not everyone agrees on. So, emotions tend to run a little high this time of year. The spring break is needed to give everyone a little time away from each other and to refocus our priorities.
HB 169 is sponsored by Rep. Gannon and it will require schools to teach students appropriate online behavior. Most school districts are already doing this, so I can’t say the bill is going to change a lot of behavior, but it did bring up a good discussion. Rep. Jared Taylor spoke about the bill and made a very valid point in that adults should be taking this class, too. He has filed a bill that has not even been referred to a committee for a hearing, but he has received hundreds of emails in opposition. Most of those emails have come from teachers or retired teachers and some of them have been very unkind. I have seen several Facebook posts that have used hateful language concerning the representative.
Rep. Taylor meant no malice when he filed the bill and he felt like he was providing a positive choice for teachers. The attacks are not necessary. These attacks have caused the representative to have a negative attitude toward education legislation. Everyone should share concerns and provide explanations why a bill is a good or bad idea; but when the rhetoric crosses over to name calling and bullying, it has gone too far. I have been told many times that, by running for office, I have opened myself up to this kind of behavior and if I am not tough enough to take it then I shouldn’t have run. I agree I have to be able to defend my votes and be responsible for my actions but that should happen in a civil manner no matter who we are dealing with or their position.
HB 581 would have expanded the areas where charter schools could open and does not appear to have enough votes to bring it to the floor, but I am sure that it will be back again in some form next year. I realized the effect of term limits as people were trying to learn about charter schools. In 2014, I was part of a small group that worked very hard to negotiate language on a bill that would have helped unaccredited school districts and expanded charter schools. The following year, I carried a bill to deal with the unaccredited districts and charter school expansion was once again added to the bill by the Senate. As I looked around the chamber this week, I realized that I and one other representative were the only ones in the House of Representatives who knew the entire story of what had happened just five years ago.
I have been very fortunate to have most of the legislation I have filed moving through the process and getting positive support. 
After spring break I will have to work with the Senate on my legislation and, with a little luck, I will have it to the governor before the session ends in the middle of May.
If you have any comments, questions, or concerns please contact me at 573-751-2077 or email david.wood@house.mo.gov.